Czudaj and Nica share spoils after dead heat in monobob finale

ST. MORITZ, Jan 20 — When Alexander Czudaj (GER) sustained an arm injury that meant he could no longer pursue his chosen sport of javelin, like many young people he turned to his father for advice.

But with Czudaj senior a member of the gold medal-winning four-man bobsleigh team at the Lillehammer 1994 Olympic Winter Games, maybe Alexander only had one sport on his mind.

“I got an arm accident,” said Czudaj. “Then I couldn’t throw the javelin anymore. I said to my father, ‘I want to try bobsleigh’. And he said OK.”

As he crossed the finish line for gold in the monobob competition at Lausanne 2020, he thought of his father Harald.

Alexander Czudaj on his way to joint gold in the monobob at Lausanne 2020 | Thomas Lovelock for OISphotos.com

“Being here has meant a lot,” said the 17-year-old. “It’s just an honour and I think he’s really happy too. He has been a massive inspiration to me.

“Before the race he told me to just stay cool. He said: ‘You have done it. You are at the Olympics now and everything after that is a bonus.’”

Family pride was not the only talking point at the St. Moritz Olympia Bob Run on Monday.

In an astonishing finale, the gold medal spoils were shared when both Czudaj and Romania’s Andrei Robert Nica (above) completed their two runs in the same time of 2 minutes, 24.80 seconds. Quentin Sanzo (LIE) finished 0.38 seconds behind them for bronze.

“It is so crazy, nobody expected this and it has never happened to me before,” said Nica. “This is madness. My wish was to get an Olympic medal, but not a gold. It was too high for me. I did not expect this. It is my best achievement.”

As he walked away from his sled, knowing that his two runs had earned him a joint gold medal at Lausanne 2020, the Romanian complained of “freezing hands”.

At times during the day, temperatures plummeted to -20 degrees Celsius. That did not stop him from making a heart shape with his fingers as he was surrounded by his teammates at the race’s close.

“I could not feel my fingers anymore, but I am so happy now,” he said. “I love to represent my country here. It is a dream to be at the Youth Olympic Games. A lot of hard work goes into [bobsleigh], but this moment is the most beautiful of my life.”

The men’s competition rounded off a thrilling two days of monobob in which the women’s race was decided in equally dramatic fashion.

Georgeta Popescu (ROU) sped to gold, but the battle for second place was decided by the narrowest of margins as Viktoria Cernanska (SVK) took the silver medal from Celine Harms (GER) by 0.01 seconds.

OIS ma/kc/sg

By Olympic Information Service

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